Thursday, May 7, 2015

Music Review: Live Forever by Matthew West



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun music and encouraging lyrics
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
True stories in song
Made to encourage, uplift
Another great disc




More Hope from the Lives of Others

I wonder if Matthew West quite realized what a concept he had when he set out to create a release of songs inspired by the lives of his fans.  It proved to be such a huge hit that Live Forever is the third release he’s done this way.  And it’s just as great as the first two were.

The thing that makes these projects work is that Matthew is able to take these stories and make the themes of God’s redemption universal.  In fact, the stories aren’t included in the booklet, although you can go to his website to read them.  However, outside of a couple specific songs, I really don’t get much of the specifics behind the songs.  And even when we have specific details, the lesson is still universal.

And those messages?  They are outstanding.  The title track encourages us to live for eternity and not the pleasures of this world.  Along a similar line, “World Changers” celebrates those who do work hard to help others whether they are recognized for it or not.

A huge theme one again is God’s grace in the face of our sins.  It pops up time and time again on such songs as “Day One,” “The List,” and “Grace Wins.”  Yet each of them is different in their approach.  “Day One” is about moving forward and not letting the mistakes of the past tie you down today.  “The List” reminds us that “Love keeps no record of wrong,” so we shouldn’t either.  And “Grace Wins” is written from the perspective of someone who has hit rock bottom only to have God’s grace restore them.

But my favorite song with this theme is “Mended.”  This one is written from God’s point of view and reminds us just how powerful His love and grace can be.  “When you see broken beyond repair/I see healing beyond belief/When you see too far gone/I see one step away from home.”  The Bible and the world are filled with people God redeemed from situations everyone else said were impossible, and it’s always great to be reminded of that.

In a different vein, there’s “Tryin’” which tells the story of someone who is no longer attempting to conform to the world’s standards for anything but instead accepting who God made them to be.

The song that is most obviously tied to a story is “Anything is Possible” which tells the story of a woman who has risen from prison to a steady job, a house, and a daughter she loves.  Matthew actually speaks the verses, which makes it a bit different and put me off at first, but I’ve found it has really grown on me.

And I’ve got to touch on the final two songs.  “Oh, Me of Little Faith” is a wonderful confession of weakness be it doubt, hopelessness, worry, or any other form of weakness.  And yet, God is there no matter what we are going through.  As the chorus says, “Lord, I believe, but/Help my unbelief ‘cause/Trust and fear are fighting.”  That’s me all too often.

Finally, there’s the anthem “Heaven is the Hope,” which circles back around to the first song and reminds us that this world is not all there is.  Instead, we have God’s promise of life as it was meant to be lived in his presence in Heaven forever. 

And yes, Matthew keeps his tradition of a hidden track by his daughters at the end.  They are definitely growing up.

Musically, this is a typical soft rock release.  Most of the songs are upbeat with a few mid-tempo tracks in there.  The slowest track is the guitar based ballad “Oh, Me of Little Faith,” which is still an up-tempo ballad.  There’s plenty of guitar, piano, and drums on all the tracks.  And yet, the more I’ve listened to the disc, the more distinct the songs have become for me.  They don’t run together, and the upbeat nature of the music really drives home the hope of the lyrics.

I’m not sure if Matthew is going to keep going with this route or try something new with his next release, but I’ll be along either way.  His music is fun and encouraging.  I definitely think it will Live Forever.

CD Length: 44:46
Tracks:
1. Live Forever
2. Day One
3. The List
4. World Changers
5. Grace Wins
6. Tryin’
7. Mended
8. Anything is Possible
9. Born for This
10. Oh, Me of Little Faith
11. Heaven is the Hope

4 comments:

  1. "Matthew actually speaks the verses, which makes it a bit different and put me off at first, but I’ve found it has really grown on me." Matthew has actually used this speaking/rapping style before. Remember his song, "Next Thing You Know"?

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    1. I do remember that song. It's just not a style I enjoy. It takes a while for songs like that to grow on me.

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